Photography by Vanessa Rogers
An intimate dinner is the traditional mainstay of Valentine’s Day. In this luxurious tablescape, styled by Matthew Huddleton of 50Fifty Creative Services, there is a coastal interpretation of the romantic repast, including recipes from a gourmet menu for two. Capturing the magical intrigue of the sea, we begin with bronze scale-like linen, reminiscent of mermaids. Swaths of fabric draped across the lowered table add dimension and a sense of fullness to the beachside backdrop.
Sweetly fragrant white duchesse peonies dot the table, along with lady slipper orchids planted into chambered nautilus shells and suspended onto pedestals fashioned out of candlesticks. A pair of hemp bundles connected by sweeping fabric and surrounded by Balinese-inspired lanterns and Moroccan puffs for seats, create a sense of closeness.
The menu, by Chef Lisa Resch, Carolina Catering Co., Naples, begins with a delicious spin on a traditional aphrodisiac: grilled oysters with a shallot-pomegranate mignonette sprinkled with lemon zest. Resch also kept romance in mind as she prepared roasted asparagus with a soft-poached egg and truffle perlage. “The runniness of the egg is kind of sexy as it spills over onto the plate,” she says. Delicate portions of duck breast with black cherry faro salad round out the meal, while a honey and lavender soufflé drizzled with orange crème anglaise delivers the sweet ending.
Grilled Oysters with Shallot Pomegranate Mignonette
Prep time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 6 fresh raw oysters, shucked (Northern Florida preferred)
For shallot Mignonette:
- 2 Tablespoons of minced flat leaf parsley
- 1 Shallot diced
- 3 Tablespoons of white Vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons of Pomegranate seeds
- Clean and rinse oyster shell
- Place oysters on the grill for 30 seconds, then flip and do another 30 seconds.
- Place oyster meat back into shell
- Mix minced parsley, diced shallot, and white vinegar in a in a non-reactive bowl.
- Pour sauce over oysters then top with pomegranate seeds.
- Zest a lemon over top.
Continue to page two for more recipes.
Seared Duck Breast with Persimmon Jus over Black Cherry Farro Salad
Prep time: 1 hour and 45 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
- 2 Duck breasts – Hudson Valley Moulard
For Persimmon Jus:
- 4 Persimmons
- 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of honey (Florida Tupelo Honey preferred)
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup of black cherries (Michigan preferred)
- 1 cup of Farro
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Score the duck fat with a knife. (Make Xs across the fat side). Put a pan on the burner and heat to medium-high.
- Place the duck breasts (fat side down) in the pan for 2 minutes.
- Remove the duck from the pan and let cool for a minute. Then left the corner of the fat and slide a sharp knife underneath to trim the fat carefully from the duck breast.
- Coat the duck breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
- Put on a sheet pan and put in the oven on 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Pull out and slice the duck on a bias, which is at a 45-degree angle.
- Rinse raw farro in a strainer then place in a pot of cold water. Place on a burner on medium-high until it comes to a boil, then reduce to medium heat, stirring constantly. Let cook for 25 minutes.
- When done drain excess water and place in mixing bowl.
- Chop up cherries and mix with farro, add some olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- To make the jus cook down the persimmons, lemon juice, one tablespoon of honey and a pinch of salt and pepper until persimmons are soft.
- Once soft, puree ingredients and keep warm.
- Place a spoonful of Cherry farro on the plate, lay sliced duck on top and pour over hot jus.
Roasted Asparagus with Soft Poached Egg
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1 bunch of asparagus (trim 1.25 inches off bottom)
- 2 large eggs
For mustard crumb:
- 5 tablespoons of breadcrumbs finely grounded
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 2 tablespoons of melted butter
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Truffle Perlage, 4 oz. jar
- 1 large lemon
- Peel and trim asparagus
- Roast in oven at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
- Boil water for eggs, drop in and cook for 6 minutes to a soft poach.
- Cool eggs in an ice bath. Once cooled carefully peel them and store in a container with water.
- To make the mustard crumb grind up breadcrumbs very fine and mix with melted butter, Dijon mustard and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Assemble asparagus on the plate in a little stack, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle mustard crumb over top, then place soft egg on top and poke a small hole so yolk runs out.
- Top with truffle perlage and lemon zest
Chocolate, Honey and Lavender Soufflé
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
- Butter for greasing soufflé cups
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 2 ounces of high-quality, semi-sweet chocolate, melted
- 1/2 tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon of lavender seeds
For the Crème Anglaise:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two soufflé dishes.
- Beat three egg yolks with the sugar until it is pale in color and very thick. Mixture will fall in a ribbon when ready
- Stir melted chocolate into yolk and sugar mixture. Add honey and lavender seeds and set aside to steep.
- After 30 minutes strain seeds.
- Whisk the remaining three egg whites together until they hold a soft peak until they are thick and glossy.
- Stir a quarter of the chocolate mixture into the whites and fold gently, then add the remaining chocolate and finish incorporating with a rubber spatula.
- Transfer to soufflé dishes and bake for 20 minutes until center is nearly set.
- To make crème anglaise, heat heavy cream and vanilla extract in saucepan on low to medium heat, until a slight boil.
- While cream is heating up whisk egg yolks and sugar together until smooth.
- Slowly pour a quarter of the cream into egg yolks whisking fast until incorporated. Then slowly add the remaining cream, while whisking constantly. Do not let it come to a boil.
- Transfer mixture back to the pot and cook on low until the mixture coats a back of a spoon.
- Pour over soufflé and top with berries.